Abyssinia Crisis

Africa between the World Wars

Sub-Saharan Africa 1935.0116

Abyssinia Crisis

League of Nations Africa, Second Italo-Ethiopian War (16 January 1935)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

In the 1920s, Mussolini's Fascists had risen to power in Italy, adopting an increasingly aggressive foreign policy. In 1934 their expanding claims in Somalia led to a clash with Ethiopia, which brought the dispute to the League of Nations. However Mussolini secretly wanted an excuse to conquer Ethiopia and continuously rejected the League's attempts at arbitration.

Main Events

Establishment of Saudi Arabia

The government of the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, under King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman ('Ibn Saud'), proclaimed the unification of the two kingdoms as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Chancellor Adolf Hitler

In a coalition agreement between the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi party) and the German National People's Party (DNVP), German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. From here Hitler would move swiftly to consolidate absolute power.

Sara Triangle

In response to Italian demands, the British ceded the northwest portion of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan to Italian Libya. Known as the 'Sara Triangle', the territory consisted almost entirely of uninhabited desert.

Abyssinia Crisis

Ethiopian and Italian Somali troops clashed at Walwal, an Italian fortified post deep inside the Ethiopian-claimed Ogaden. The following day, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia protested Italian aggression but was countered when Duce Benito Mussolini's Italian government demanded an apology and compensation. The dispute was brought before the League of Nations, but not only did Italy continuously reject arbitration measures, it also began building up forces in East Africa.

Mussolini-Laval Accord

French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signed the Franco-Italian Agreement in Rome, Italy, to compensate Italy for its sacrifices in World War I. By the terms of the agreement, France would cede a small amount of territory from French Somaliland to Eritrea and a large desert stretch - the Aozou Strip - from Chad to Libya. France also agreed to give Italy a free hand in its dispute with Ethiopia. However, the Italian Parliament refused to ratify the accord, rejecting it as too minimal.

Italian East Africa

The Italian colony of Eritrea and protectorate of Somalia were united to form the colony of Italian East Africa, with its capital at Mogadishu and Emilio de Bono as High Commissioner. Ethiopia would be added to the colony after its conquest the following year.

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